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Consistency Over Flattery


Negative social feedback is often a source of distress. However, self-verification theory provides the counterintuitive explanation that negative feedback leads to less distress when it is consistent with chronic self-views. Drawing from this work, the present study examined the impact of receiving self-verifying feedback on outcomes largely neglected in prior research: implicit responses (i.e., physiological reactivity, facial expressions) that are difficult to consciously regulate and downstream behavioral outcomes. In two experiments, participants received either positive or negative feedback from interviewers during a speech task. Regardless of self-views, positive compared to negative feedback elicited lower self-reported negative affect. Implicit responses to negative feedback, however, depended on chronic self-views with more negative self-views associated with lower blood pressure reactivity, lower facial negativity, and enhanced creativity. These findings point at the role self-verification may play in long-term coping and stress regulation. © The Author(s) 2013.

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